The Phoenix Theatre mission has always been about giving voice to the voiceless, inviting our community in for lively conversation, and supporting those who need support the most. A part of their case statement to raise money for their remarkable new facility involved not only community building but affording new ideas and new organizations a space to grow artistically. Phoenix is thrilled to see the first of those partnerships thrive with the inaugural production from Summit Performance Indianapolis, a new women-focused theatre group and a member of the Phoenix Collective.
Summit Artistic Director Lauren Briggeman is no stranger to Phoenix. Seen in many highly acclaimed productions including Typhoid Mary by playwright-in-residence Tom Horan, Halftime with Don by Ken Weitzman, and Seminar by Theresa Rebeck, Briggeman is well-versed in finding and producing compelling yet challenging stories. Summit’s inaugural production follows suit; Silent Sky by Lauren Gunderson is a masterful play written with the sort of magical realism Phoenix fans know and love. True to Summit’s mission, the production is almost entirely female. Only one character in the cast is male. The production team, the designers, and four out of five on stage are all women—and highly qualified women at that.
Leading the production team is director Lori Wolter Hudson whose work has been seen on stages from New York City to Indiana Repertory Theatre. Wolter Hudson and her husband recently earned the titles of Artistic Director and Executive Director respectively at the New Harmony Project, a non-profit theatre organization in southern Indiana focused on nurturing new plays with a positive impact. Wolter Hudson found a stellar cast for the production including Carrie Schlatter—a hidden gem of local talent—in the leading role, Devan Mathias—familiar to Phoenix and Civic audiences—as her sister, Molly Garner—a Muncie resident making a shining debut in Indianapolis—as the hard-nosed but soft-hearted boss, and Gigi Jennewein—a DePauw professor—as the Scottish spitfire. The uplifting tale is beautifully told with grace and heart that leaves an audience with tears of joy for this exceptional (and forgotten) story of a real life astronomer with dreams of something bigger than her own backyard.
Supporting Summit Performance Indianapolis is important to the leadership at Phoenix to actively and directly assist in creating more arts organizations—and thus more work for local artists. The passion and dedication of these fledgling groups is well worth the price of admission.
Silent Sky runs June 28-July 22 on the Basile Stage at Phoenix Theatre. Tickets are $25 for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday performances, available by visiting SummitPerformanceIndy.com or PhoenixTheatre.org, or call the Box Office at 317-635-7529.